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Real-life lovebirds Joey and Rory Feek, aka Joey + Rory, rose into the country music scene in 2008 after coming in third place on the CMT talent show Can You Duet. Their debut single, “Cheater, Cheater,” was met with positive reception, and they continued to have chart-topping success for the next several years. Unfortunately, Joey Feek’s untimely death caused their career together to be cut short when it took her life in 2016.
Here are 10 Joey + Rory facts to help us remember this country duo.
1. She First Saw Him at a Songwriters Night
Although it would take two years for them to meet officially, Joey Martin first saw Rory Feek during a songwriters’ night, noting she was captivated by his music. They were married on Jun. 15, 2002. This is definitely one of the sweetest of the Joey + Rory facts.
2. Joey Feek was a Horse Vet Assistant
Before she met her husband or made it in the music business, Joey (Martin) Feek was able to move to Nashville from Alexandria, Indiana, because of her connection as an assistant to a horse vet clinic. It was there that she became connected to LeAnn Rimes’ father, Wilbur, and Brooks & Dunn’s Kix Brooks.
3. Rory was Married Before
Joey and Rory may have been the inspirational love story, but she wasn’t the first one that he said “I Do” to, according to this juiciest of the Joey + Rory facts.
Before he met Joey Martin, Rory Feek was married to Tamara Gilmer from Aug. 3, 1985, until March 25, 1992. The pair had two daughters together, Heidi (1986) and Hopie (1988).
4. Their Daughter Has Down Syndrome
Joey and Rory Feek found out they were expecting their first child together in 2013, causing them to decide to take a break from music. Their daughter, Indiana Boone Feek, was born on Feb. 17, 2014. She was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after birth.
5. Joey Had Cervical Cancer
Along with the joy of Indiana’s birth that led to Joey + Rory’s hiatus from music, Joey’s diagnosis with cervical cancer in May 2014 also was cause for a break. Although surgery and treatment initially led to her being deemed cancer free, it returned in June 2015 and had metastasized to her colon. Even with more surgery and treatment, Joey passed away on Mar. 4, 2016, just weeks after her daughter’s second birthday, at the age of 40.
6. Rory Feek is a Veteran
Before making it big in music, Rory Feek served two tours of duty in the U.S. Marine Corps straight out of high school. It was only later that he started pursuing his music, having played guitar since he was 15. He began playing in various nightclubs in Dallas, Texas, before moving to Nashville in 1995 at the encouragement of Rod Phelps, a Nashville entertainment attorney.
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7. Joey Kept Rory Optimistic In Her Final Days
When Joey Feek ultimately lost her battle with cancer, her husband gave fans insight into some of her final words. “I have no regrets… I can honestly say that I have done everything I wanted to do and lived the life I always wanted to live.”
8. Joey Feek Was Selfless
Even in her final days, Joey Feek showed her selfless nature. When most would want to soak up every last ounce of time with their child if they were terminally ill, she pulled away from her young daughter Indiana to make it easier on her when she passed away. “In the last few months, she told me, ‘I’m going to push the baby away and make you greater in her life and me less,’” Rory Feek revealed, admitting he didn’t think he would have been able to do the same.
9. Rory Has Written Two Memoirs
Since Joey Feek’s untimely death, Rory Feek hasn’t been in the spotlight much as far as country music goes – although he did release his first solo album, Gentle Man, in June 2021 – but he hasn’t been silent. He has written two memoirs, including This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever in 2017, as well as several children’s books.
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10. Rory is a Filmmaker
This is yet another of the Joey + Rory facts to make you say, is there anything this man can’t do? Along with his memoirs, Rory Feek has shown his talents as a filmmaker and storyteller. He has shot and edited everything from the full-length documentary, To Joey, With Love (2016), the feature-length film Finding Josephine (2019), and the 2020 docu-series This Life I Live.
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